How to walk for your groceries with kids

Shopping, unencumbered by children, for one or two people is no problem. You may have done it yourself in college (I did). You can take a backpack and carry a few grocery bags and it works without too much extra planning. If you also need to take a child or two or four with you, grocery shopping gets more complicated. I’ve shopped with most combinations of small children, and can tell you how to do it.

If you have one baby.

Grocery shopping with one baby is easy now, but in the early days it certainly was not. With one baby everything is new and everything takes adjustment. But you can do it! I have always worn the baby, as worn babies are generally happy. At first I wore my daughter on my front and a backpack on my back, but as she got bigger that needed to change. One day I realized that I just didn’t have it in me to carry her and a gallon of milk. So I bought a wire grocery cart at the hardware store across the street, and then realized that I couldn’t carry her, the unassembled grocery cart AND the groceries all at once. The groceries waited until the next day.

Let me tell you, that grocery cart was life-changing. I’d always walked to the store, but now I could see how I’d feed my family as it grew. Going to the store is not (usually) a chore, it’s an outing, a little exercise, and a change of scenery on cranky days. It’s something I don’t have to save for when there’s somebody else to watch the kids. I can get the grocery shopping done with them. On good days I teach them how I choose things in preparation for them doing the shopping themselves. On busy days we just get our things and go.

We have no pictures from those early pre-smartphone days when we didn’t obsessively document the minutiae of everyday life. Here’s a more recent one.

We’ve lined our shopping cart with a piece of foam camping sleeping pad – it’s waterproof and dries quickly. We have a couple of bags that fit nicely side-by-side in the space. They are very worn, but I haven’t found anything else that fits so nicely! We bag heavy things in the lower bags and pile lighter things on top. Sometimes it takes a little rearranging after the bagger loads the bags.

One baby and one toddler.

After the birth of our second child, our oldest was two-and-a-half when Mark went back to work and I had to do the shopping by myself with both of them. She walked to the store and I wore the baby, holding her by one hand and the grocery cart in the other. At the store I put her in the seat of the store cart and left mine stashed out of the way near the checkout area. If your toddler doesn’t walk or can’t be trusted, see “two non-walking children,” below.

Toddlers and up of whatever number.

Once the kids are able to walk with you and behave in the store, it really doesn’t matter how many you have. A wire grocery cart is still essential, and they might pull it for you (at least when it’s empty). They also might fight over who gets to pull it. I’m really looking forward to sending my kids to the store when we are out of yogurt, and it doesn’t have to wait until they are 16 and can drive!

Two newborns.

This is the trickiest situation I’ve had to handle, but it can be done. I wore one and used a stroller for the other. The best situation would be a city stroller with an enormous storage basket, but I didn’t have one, I just had a stroller that took the infant carseat. I put as much as I could in the small storage basket and tied a couple of bags to the handle. We shopped often because it was something to do.

We were quite a sight in those days. I frequently wore one, held one in one arm, and pushed the empty stroller around the store with the other hand. My big kids (aged three and five at the time) pulled our groceries as we shopped with small shopping baskets on wheels.

Two non-walking (either by your choice or their ability) children.


Bonus: nap-fighting toddler sleeps while you get your work done!

I learned this tip from a friend who oldest two are close in age, and we’ve used it extensively with twins. I wear one baby and push a double stroller with the other baby in one seat. After shopping, we fill the other seat of the stroller with groceries. I frequently stash the stroller out of the way in the front of the store and use a shopping cart with the second baby in the seat while we are in the store.


also works for paint


and pumpkins

Our twins are now toddlers, and they love to walk to the store. I only walk with one at a time because I can’t hold both and the shopping cart all at once. The other still rides on my back. We use the “one baby and one toddler” method as described above, and the big kids can be trusted (with reminders) to stay nearby while we walk across the street and across the parking lot.

“I want to walk on the lellow!” (curb in the parking lot on the way to the store)

Michelle’s 2016 Errandonnee wrap-up

Mark likes to say that the Errandonnee is a chance to do things on foot or bike that you wouldn’t usually do, and maybe even make those errands part of your regular life. For me, it’s more a celebration of what we already do.

Personal care: riding my horse (#1), riding my horse (#5)

Personal business: double appointments (#6)

You carried what?: four kids, lunch, library books, and the rest of the gear for a day out (#7)

Arts & entertainment: none

Non-store errand: church (#4), church (#11)

Social call: greenway ride & coffee (#2), dinner & book talk (#12)

Work/volunteering: catechism class (#8), catechism dropoff (#9)

Store: thrift store (#3)

Wild card: a walk in the park (#10)

Part 1, errands 1-7

Part 2, errands 8-12

Total mileage: 45

 

The bikes

The little bike: a Trek mountain bike, circa 1996. This was my sister’s first (and only) grown-up bike that I claimed when I graduated from college and moved back to our hometown, and she left for college. I outfitted it for city riding a few years ago (fenders, slicker tires, kickstand), and used it to tow the child trailer. Now it mostly stays on top of our hill – if I’m going down the hill, I take the electric cargo bike to get back up it.

The big bike: an Xtracycle Edgerunner with Stokemonkey electric assist. It also has a custom frame-mounted front rack, and a custom, integrated trailer hitch. The headlight and taillights on both bike and trailer are powered by a dynamo hub, and it has chain guards on both chains. Yepp seats on front and back when needed, and we tow an older Burley d’Lite double child trailer. Custom painted a deep sparkly purple. AKA the awesomest bike in town. More here.

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And that’s it! Thanks so much to Mary for organizing! We love living our life on foot and bike, and it’s so fun to really celebrate it.

Michelle’s 2016 Errandonnee part 2

The first errands are described here.

 

Errand #8: catechism class

I teach a small catechism class at church on Wednesday mornings. Four of the students are my own kids!

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Possible category: work or volunteering
Distance: 2 miles
Cumulative distance: 35
Kids toted: 2 on board, plus two bikelings
Cargo: diaper bag, catechist album (for me) and school books (for the 7yo), huge bag of raingear (that we didn’t need!)

 

Errand #9: taking 7yo to her catechism class

Our 7yo has her own catechism class in the afternoon that’s geared to her age group rather than her younger brothers. It was pouring, but Mark was working from home, so I didn’t have to take the boys out in the rain. I managed to bump into a couple of people that I needed to talk to, so maybe this one will count as social?

Possible category: work or volunteering, social
Distance: 2 miles
Cumulative distance: 37 miles
Kids toted: zero, one bikeling
Cargo: nothing extra

 

Errand #10: walk/hike in Bridle Trails

We live a half mile from Bridle Trails State Park, with its lovely forested trails. I’m out there three times a week on my horse, but the kids don’t go there because it’s just a little too far for them to walk here and do any walking while we’re there. I’m determined to change this now, and we can do it because we have bikes! We invited some friends to join us in the mud.

Possible categories: arts/entertainment, social, wild card
Distance: 1 mile
Cumulative distance: 38 miles
Kids toted: 2, plus two bikelings
Cargo: diaper bag, camera, towels, baby carrier (in which I carried my friend’s toddler, because I don’t have enough babies of my own)

 

Errand #11: church

It was raining, really raining when we got ready for Mass this week. Usually we drive in the rain because I don’t want to arrive at church bedraggled, but the 7yo had choir practice right afterward, and the logistics for driving looked more complicated than rain gear for six. So we biked, and I realized that 10 minutes of biking in rain gear is an improvement over 5 minutes of walking from the parking lot without rain gear. Biking wins again.

 

Possible category: non-store errand
Distance: 2 miles
Cumulative distance: 40 miles
Kids toted: 2, plus two bikelings
Cargo: diaper bag. All the rain gear was worn this time.

 

Errand #12: dinner and book talk

The plan was for Mark to take the bus and meet us in Kirkland before Madi’s Urban Cycling talk at the Kirkland Library, and then he would take the 7yo and her bike home on the bus. But kids love the bus, so they all wanted to take the bus home, and the timing worked out that taking the bus would get them home faster, so Mark got to take the bus with all four, and I rode home towing the extra bike.


Blurry picture in the dark of the bike ready to ride home.

 

Possible category: social, you carried what
Distance: 5 miles
Cumulative distance: 45 miles
Kids toted: 3 on board and one bikeling, then zero
Cargo: diaper bag, bag of toys and books for the restaurant, baby carrier (both ways), four extra bike helmets, bag of rain gear, bike (coming home)

 

And that’s it! Perhaps I will describe the walking errands of the past twelve days also.

Control card

 

Michelle’s 2016 Errandonnee part 1

My Errandonnee started this year not with an epic trip like Mark’s, but with our usual routine.

 

Errand #1: a trip to ride my horse

On Friday morning, before anything else, I rode my bike to ride my horse. Then I rode home, and when I got home I put my helmet in the helmet basket and discovered that it was my helmet for riding my horse, not my bike. Fortunately, we have an extra adult-sized helmet around, so I didn’t need to go back right then.

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Possible category: personal care

Distance: 2 miles

Kids toted: zero, because personal care

 

 

Errand #2: greenway ride and coffee

 

We met with some fellow bike advocates to show them the proposed greenway in our neighborhood, then rode into Kirkland for “coffee.” Our 7yo rode where she could, and she rode onboard while I towed her bike where it wasn’t safe for her to ride.

 

bikes-greenway

Photo by Blake Trask

 

Possible category: social

Distance: 5 miles

Cumulative distance: 7 miles

Kids toted: 2, then 3

Cargo: diaper bag, entertainment for kids in the coffee shop, and a bike, part of the way

 

 

 

Errand #3: thrift store shopping

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Possible category: store

Distance: 8 miles

Cumulative distance: 15 miles

Kids toted: zero, I got to shop by myself

Cargo: large bag of purchases

 

 

Errand #4: church

 

This is our favorite ride. It’s low-stress, flat, and we have covered parking right on the plaza in front of the church. This was key this week as it was pouring while we were loading to go home. Then the sun came out on the way home, so we totally could have had a donut and waited it out.

 

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Blurry photo by Mark while riding

 

Possible category: non-store errand

Distance: 2 miles

Cumulative distance: 17 miles

Kids toted: 3

 

 

Errand #5: back to the barn

 

I wore my riding helmet back to the barn and retrieved my bike helmet after my ride.

 

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Possible category: Personal care

Distance: 2 miles

Cumulative distance: 19 miles

Kids toted: zero

 

 

Errand #6: double appointments

 

Two kids have weekly appointments in the Crossroads area of Bellevue. I am so glad that they overlap. Sometimes we bike, sometimes we bus (occasionally we drive and that stinks), and this is Errandonnee week, so the bike it was.

 

Possible category: Personal business, non-store errand

 

 

Errand #7: library

 

We do the weekly library drop off/pick up while in Crossroads. We also eat lunch in the food court, and this time some of the kids rode the kiddie carousel. Then we went to the bookstore for a birthday gift, but I’m only counting the library.

 

Possible category: Personal business, non-store errand, you carried what?!

Distance: the whole trip is about 14 miles

Cumulative distance: 33 miles

Kids toted: 4! Two on board, two in the trailer

Cargo: library books, lunch, diaper bag, school books, books and toys for kids while waiting, huge bag of rain gear just in case, two stuffed animals, baby carrier (so glad I had it)

 

More to come!

Mark’s 2016 Errundonnee #1 – Running with a chair?!?

After my inaugural Errundonnee last year and the realization that I could do more by running that I originally thought, I’ve further embraced transportation running and sought out new, err, opportunities.  It has fit in quite well with training because, outside of a few key workouts per week, there’s a lot of benefit to simply putting in the miles.  Another thing that I’ve learned in the last year is that a second run in a day can be less stressful than the same mileage crammed into one run.  So all of a sudden the oft-dreaded two-a-day became the opportunistic double commute (with possible stops, of course).  I’ve double-commuted a bit in the past, but I’ve tried to do more of it recently.

A year has rolled around, and this year’s rules unsurprisingly still have the ever-fun “You carried WHAT on your bike (or back)?!” category/control.  I’ve been thinking about this one and looking forward to it.  After my initial Errundonnee, I’ve felt a little pressure to, no, wait, that might disqualify me via rule 12.  I’ve felt encouraged (yes, that’s it!) to come up with something good for this year.

Enter the failing upholstery on our gliding chair.

I might have sat on this one for a bit waiting for this day.  I’d say no pun intended, but I’m already talking about running errands here so no one will believe me anyway.

The first lesson was kind of an obvious one except that it’s not the sort of thing anyone would ever think about.  Upholstery shops, being light industrial, don’t tend to be in walkable (or runnable) locations.  I’m going to do this with a stroller, so I won’t exactly be nimble.  A trip to Redmond would be ok; I could use a few neighborhood streets, get past a rough stretch, and then have the 520 Trail, Sammamish River Trail, and Redmond Connector at my disposal.  Alas, my first target turned out to “only” do woodwork.  (Hmm… the possibilities…)  Then I found three in Bellevue in the Northup/Bel-Red area.  They wouldn’t work because, well, Bellevue.  (See here or here though much is afoot (sorry!) so maybe someday.)  Then I found addresses for three more in Redmond, but none existed.  Finally, I found one:

all-city

The Cross Kirkland Corridor’s main problem is that, being an old rail line, it avoids most places (like downtown Kirkland), which turns out to be perfect for this kind of destination.  I can get to the CKC via neighborhood streets and a ped/bike bridge over I-405.  So now to figure out how to actually bring the chair.  It turns out that it fit really well in both the single and double Bob strollers.  The double seemed more stable, so I went with that:WP_20160304_15_20_13_Pro.jpg

Of course it was raining, so it also needed a cover:

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The obvious question in all of this is why I would even do this.  And I could blah blah like running more than biking blah blah don’t know how I’d attach it to any of our bikes blah blah could drive blah blah Errandonnee, but really here’s the answer.  Who’s having the most fun here?

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The run itself turned out to be surprisingly easy.  I bungeed it to the stroller, but it settled into the seats so nicely that even that might not have been needed.  The weight balance was really good; it took very little pressure to lift the front wheel for turning (the front wheel on jogging strollers generally locks straight forward for stability).  In fact, it was easier than pushing the twins around both because of that and because it weighed less than them.  The weight might have tipped backwards on an uphill, a problem we’ve cleverly solved by living on the top of a hill.

Four miles later, I was there (the chair is already inside).  The return trip was lighter.

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Possible categories: You carried WHAT, non-store errand (pretty clearly going to be the former)

Side note: The category is officially “You carried WHAT on your bike (or back)?!”, which I’m going to claim is an oversight of the tools available to transportation runners 🙂

Miles: 8

Our Bikey Week

Shirley wrote about her bikey week, and I thought that was such a good idea that I’m going to do it myself.

Sunday started with a bike ride to church and another in the afternoon to ride my horse. I rode down to the library to pick up holds and drop off due books, and rode back to the barn partially via the Cross Kirkland Corridor. It was such a lovely day!

Monday was errand-day in Redmond after we finished our school work. We rode the Bear Creek Trail to the print shop to pick up a new math book for our 7yo.

There’s a point where the trail ducks behind the big-box businesses there, so we stayed on the sidewalk. There’s a beg button positioned perfectly to go straight.

And another that was really awkward to use to turn left.

Then we rode to our next destination via the Redmond Central Connector. At Leary, I unloaded the kids so they could play in the open area there, and walked the bike the next block. They played in the bushes and on the bench-like structures and the staple racks.

We rode to the kids consignment store and then across the parking lot to Trader Joe’s. 7yo decided she wanted to walk across the parking lot, so instead of putting a 2yo back in the trailer, he got to ride in the Hooptie! That may have been a mistake, since both 2yo’s have been asking to do it again since then.

Tuesday we had a rainy ride to Crossroads, for what was supped to be double appointments. I missed the cancellation phone call because I was loading the bike in a hurry so we could get there on time. So instead we visited the library and had piroshky for lunch at Crossroads Mall before the second appointment. At 6.5 miles, Crossroads is a long ride for us, but it’s totally worth having the bike there with us when we are back and forth to the mall.

Wednesday we were pedestrians in the morning, walking to our neighborhood shopping center to drop off a package and letters, and shop at the hardware and grocery stores. In the afternoon we biked the 7yo to her catechism class at church.

Thursday was another rainy ride to fetch the 5yo home from his catechism class at church, and that was the end of our biking last week.

But then Monday, yesterday, we biked the proposed Rose Hill Greenway to the CKC to have a St. Bridget playdate on another lovely day.

The car did come out last week, for a trip to Evan’s Creek (our favorite kid-hiking spot) and then to tow the horse trailer. Mark would like to know when I’m going to try to hitch the Edgerunner up to it.

 

Coffeeneuring, #2 and #3

Our bakery tour continues.

Bakery #2: Kringles Bakery, Redmond.

We love this bakery! Sadly, we rarely go there because it’s really awkward to get to. Only a block or so from a nice trail, but in between two very busy streets.

We rode through the Value Village parking lot, then onto the sidewalk

and walked the bike across the crosswalk. Here’s a better picture of the crosswalk. The bakery is in the yellow house in the middle of the picture.

No bike rack, though there was this interesting feature protecting the gas meter that looked an awful lot like a staple… so I locked up to it.

Our haul: one lemon curd kringle, two chocolate chip cookies, one chocolate croissant (split between two big kids), one chocolate muffin (for Daddy), and a cup of jasmine green tea that was still too hot to drink when the kids were done eating.

We also went to the thrift store on this trip, for Halloween costumes and other things, but ran out of time for the errands I’d intended to do.

Bakery #3: Hoffman’s Fine Pastries, Kirkland

Hoffman’s is currently in downtown Kirkland, in the Park Place area, but will be moving soon as their area will be redeveloped. Park Place is actually a fine place to ride a bike. There are many cars milling about, but they mostly move slowly. The street is narrow and there are lots of people walking around.

No bike rack anywhere nearby that I know of. I wheel locked the bike on the sidewalk outside.

Our haul: one chocolate croissant (split between two big kids), one blueberry muffin (split between two babies), one more chocolate croissant (for Daddy), one cinnamon roll, and one cup of chai tea.

We also went to the park and the library on this trip.

More to come…